Robot-Assisted Walking Therapy Helps Patients Learn to Walk Again

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Looking more like some crazy inventor’s contraption than a high-tech piece of therapy equipment, the Lokomat is the latest addition to Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute’s (BHRI) arsenal of technology-based care that is helping patients relearn to walk again.

The robot-assisted device helps stimulate normal walking patterns for patients who have sustained an injury or illness that has severely limited their walking ability. It’s believed that the repetitive walking pattern helps the brain and spinal cord work together to re-route signals that have been interrupted by injury or illness. The Lokomat may also help strengthen muscles, improve circulation and increase bone density.

Supported by a suspension harness that looks like part of a parachute, patients are fitted with a robotic frame that’s strapped to the outside of their legs. Positioned over the device’s built-in treadmill, the robotic frame ensures that the patient’s legs stay in a natural walking pattern while a computer controls the walking pace and measures the patient’s efforts.

This new walking therapy is most beneficially to people who have had a stroke, an incomplete spinal cord injury, brain injury or those who suffer from extreme muscular weakness due to immobilization, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy or Parkinson’s Disease. Robot-assisted walking therapy is not appropriate for everyone, and certain medical conditions prohibit participation in this therapy.

Baptist Health is the state’s most comprehensive healthcare system with more than 175 points of access including eight hospitals. For more information about the Lokomat, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST.